In addition to historical temples and lively markets, Korea’s second-biggest city offers beaches, mountains, and spectacular seafood. One day is just enough time to get a taste of the quintessential Busan experience. Here’s how to make the most of your 24 hours in Busan.
Spend the morning ticking off Busan’s maritime highlights on a sightseeing tour, which typically provide a stress-free intro to the city. Expect to cover highlights such as Haeundae Beach and Jagalchi, Korea’s largest seafood market, where you’re likely to see huge octopus and squid in addition to hundreds of live fish. After the market, head to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, a coastal temple that appears to tumble into the sea. It’s a photographer’s dream, but its remote location means it’s best to visit as part of a hop-on-hop-off-sightseeing tour, which also gives you the flexibility to create your own itinerary.
Devote the afternoon to one of Busan’s must-see sights (and a staple on most full-day sightseeing tours): Gamcheon Cultural Village, nicknamed the Santorini of South Korea. Once an enclave for refugee members of the Taegeukdo religious movement, the hillside neighborhood now attracts visitors with its brightly colored cubicle houses, sweeping sea views, and plentiful galleries and cafés. Tours typically give you a historical introduction followed by ample free time to explore the area on your own.
Thanks to an illuminated cityscape and a plethora of karaoke bars, Busan comes to life at night. For the ultimate Busan experience, opt for an evening tour that covers one or two bustling night markets—where exploring with a guide removes the language barrier—and Mt. Hwangnyeongsan Observatory, from which the best city views are guaranteed. Alternatively, opt for an evening tour that includes a yacht cruise to enjoy unobstructed views of Busan’s coastline. No visit to the city would be complete without sampling its seafood, so conclude your evening with fresh fish South Korean–style.